traceroute command

Dexter is a forensic blood spatter analyst by day, and a RHEL System Administator at Red Hat by night. He is reading a book on GNU/Linux commands, and he  arrives at the page discussing the traceroute command. Dexter then realizes that he's never used the traceroute command before, and that he knows very little about it. Please help Dexter to improve his level of knowledge:

1.) Teach him the history of the traceroute command

2.) Teach him the strengths and weaknesses of the traceroute command

3.) Teach him what problems the traceroute commands is designed to solve

4.) Give and explain several examples of the traceroute command used on a RHEL system

Certainly, let's help Dexter improve his knowledge about the traceroute command in GNU/Linux:

1. History of the traceroute command:

The traceroute command, also known as tracert on Windows systems, was developed by Van Jacobson in 1987. It was originally designed to trace the path that packets take from one computer to another on a network, helping to identify network connectivity issues and bottlenecks. Traceroute is based on the ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) and uses the Time-to-Live (TTL) field in IP packets to discover the route.

2. Strengths and Weaknesses of the traceroute command:


  • traceroute is a valuable tool for diagnosing network connectivity problems, as it helps identify the routers and network segments that packets traverse.
  • It provides information about the round-trip time (RTT) for each hop in the route, helping to pinpoint slow or problematic network segments.
  • Traceroute is easy to use and widely available on most UNIX-like operating systems, including RHEL.


  • Some routers and firewalls are configured to block or limit ICMP traffic, which can result in incomplete or inaccurate traceroute results.
  • Traceroute provides information about network paths but doesn't necessarily identify the root cause of network issues.
  • It may not work well with IPv6 networks, and alternatives like traceroute6 or mtr may be needed for IPv6 tracing.

3. Problems the traceroute command is designed to solve:

The traceroute command is designed to address several network-related problems:

  • Identifying network routing issues: Traceroute helps pinpoint where network packets encounter delays, congestion, or failures in reaching their destination.
  • Debugging network connectivity problems: It assists in diagnosing connectivity issues by showing the path packets take and the RTT to each hop.
  • Identifying network bottlenecks: Traceroute can reveal which segments of a network are causing delays, allowing administrators to optimize routing.
  • Verifying network configurations: It helps administrators verify that traffic follows the intended path and that routers and firewalls are properly configured.

4. Examples of the traceroute command on RHEL:

a. Basic traceroute:


b. Specifying the number of hops (e.g., limit to 10 hops):

traceroute -m 10

c. Using UDP packets instead of ICMP (useful when ICMP is blocked):

traceroute -U

d. Displaying IP addresses instead of hostnames:

traceroute -n

e. Combining traceroute with timestamp output:

traceroute -T

Remember that traceroute might require administrative privileges, so you may need to run it with sudo or as the root user, depending on your system's configuration.

By learning and using the traceroute command, Dexter can become more proficient in diagnosing and resolving network-related issues in his role as a RHEL System Administrator at Red Hat.

You should also read: